Our Researchers Please click on a researcher’s name to learn more about his or her study. 2017 Divi Cornec, MD, PhD Mayo Clinic, Rochester and Brest University, France Mary H. Foster, MD Nephrology, Duke University Mark Gorelik, MD Pediatric Rheumatology, Baylor College of Medicine Nataliya Milman, MD, FRCPC, MSC Rheumatology, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 2016 Prof. dr. Peter Heeringa Department of Pathology and Medical Biology, Vasculitis Expertise Center, University Medical Center, Groningen, Netherlands Professor Mark Little Trinity Health Kidney Centre, Nephrology, Renal Inflammation Group, St. James Hospital, Dublin, Ireland Robert Micheletti, MD, Assistant Professor Dermatology and Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 2015 Jonathan Choy, PhD Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada Susan Jick, DSc Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts Renate Kain, MD, PhD Medical University of Vienna, Austria Davide Martorana, PhD University Hospital of Parma, Parma, Italy Parameswaran Nair, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRCPC McMaster University, Ontario, Canada 2014 Lindsay Lally, MD Hospital for Special Surgery, New York Kim Liang, MD University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Susan Schinke, MD Klinikum Bad Bramstedt, Germany Carolyn Thorpe, PhD, MPH University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2013 Carola Vinuesa, MD, MSc, PhD Australian National University, Australia Susanne Benseler, MD, MSCE, PhD Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, Canada Paul Brogan, BSc, MBCHB, MRCPCH, MSc, Ph.D., FRCPCH Institute of Child Health, London, United Kingdom Ritu Chakravarti, PhD Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 2012 Sharon Chung, MD University of California – San Francisco Cornelia Weyand, MD, PhD Stanford University, California 2010 Luqmani Raashid, MD University of Oxford, United Kingdom DIVI CORNEC, MD, PHDInvestigator: DIVI CORNEC, MD, PHD Co-investigators: Ulrich Specks, MD and Pers Jacques-Olivier, PhD Institution: Mayo Clinic, Rochester and Brest University, France Title: In Depth Characterization of PR3-specific B Cells in ANCA-associated Vasculitis Award: $50,000, one-year with a second year requested Divi Cornec is a French rheumatologist, currently working at the Mayo Clinic as a Research Fellow with Ulrich Specks, in collaboration with Jacques-Olivier Pers, head of the Immunology research team U1227 in Brest, France. Since the pivotal RAVE study codirected by Dr Specks, rituximab has become the cornerstone of the treatment of many patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis. Rituximab acts by destroying a certain type of white blood cells called “B cells”, which are responsible for the production of our antibodies. Most B cells in the blood of patients with auto-immune diseases are normal, and secrete “good” antibodies (that protect against infections for example), and only a minority of their B cells are abnormal and make the autoantibodies (the ANCAs) that are associated with the disease and may cause the damage to different organs. Until now, very little is known about the differences between normal protective B cells and abnormal ANCA-producing B cells. What this means for patients The authors recently developed a method to recognize these ANCA-producing B cells among all other normal B cells in the blood of the patients. This method is a very promising tool. The main objective of the present research project is to determine whether the proportion of ANCA producing (PR3-specific) B cells in the blood of the patients is associated with disease activity and could predict the risk of relapse. If this is the case, this test could be very useful to guide treatment for each individual patient, in order to avoid unnecessary immunosuppressive therapy in some patients while preventing disease relapses in patients at risk. Jonathan Choy, PhDStudy: Immune regulation by IL-6 in Giant cell arteritis Institution: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia Canada Award: $50,000, one-year study Summary: Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is vascular disease that is characterized by thickening of the artery wall, resulting in a block in blood flow. It most often affects the temporal artery that provides blood to parts of the head is a challenging cause of blindness and stroke in the elderly. Targeting of arteries by cells of the immune system causes GCA. More specifically, T cells are specialized cells of the immune system that play a key role in the development of GCA. The activation of T cell responses depends on the cytokine IL-6. IL-6 levels are increased in GCA and a clinical trial has recently begun to investigate the effect of blocking IL-6 activity on the development of GCA. However, the way in which IL-6 activates T cell responses in GCA is poorly understood. We will study the potential mechanisms by which IL-6 affects immune responses in GCA by examining the relationship between IL-6 expression levels and features of T cell responses that are improperly controlled during the development of immune-mediated diseases. The potential identification of correlations between IL-6 levels and altered properties of T cells will provide insight into how IL-6 alters immune function in GCA and will form the basis for future studies that specifically inhibit the activity of IL-6 in patients. Our studies will have implications for the management of GCA.